More victims in torture jail come forward

The CHR now has 22 affidavits – two from minors – accusing Biñan police of torturing inmates in a 'secret' facility

‘WHEEL OF TORTURE.’ More victims of police torture in Binan come forward. Photo courtesy: CHR/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Seven more victims of alleged police abuse in Biñan, Laguna, have come forward, bringing the number of victims from 15 to 22.

In a phone interview with Rappler on Wednesday, January 29, Commission on Human Rights Chair (CHR) Etta Rosales said that since the “secret prison” in Biñan where police tortured inmates was exposed, more victims have come forward.

“The investigation is ongoing and, with that investigation, we’re not going to stop. We’re going to be monitoring that hanggang sa katapusan,” said Rosales. (We’re going to be monitoring it until the end.)

On Friday, January 24, the CHR revealed that 10 officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Laguna Provincial Intelligence unit would wear wigs and masks while torturing inmates. The torture happened “at time of arrest, a few days later, and every time the officers become intoxicated, or when they are forcing inmates to admit to a crime,” according to a CHR spokesman.

The torture jail was not within police facilities, but in a private house in a private subdivision in Biñan.

During a visit to the police facility in Laguna, the CHR discovered a “torture roulette,” which was spun so police could “choose” which form of torture they would use on inmates. Of the 15 initial affidavits, at least two came from minors: one 16 and another 17 years old.  

The torture, according to the CHR, started in February 2013.

The PNP has since been relieved of their duty. Administrative charges for grave misconduct have also been slapped on the following:

  1. Police Inspector Arnold Formento
  2. SPO1 Alexander Asis 
  3. PO3 Freddie Ramos
  4. PO2 Marc Julius Caezar
  5. PO2 Melmar Baybayado
  6. PO1 Nelson Caribo 
  7. SPO3 Bernardino Artisen 
  8. PO3 Renan Galang 
  9. PO2 Mateo Cailo 
  10. PO2 Aldwin Paulo Tibuc

PNP Spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac told Rappler that they are also conducting an investigation parallel to the CHR’s.

No ‘secret jail’

Sindac also said that contrary to previous reports, the torture was not held in a “secret” detention facility, a private house in a gated subdivision in Biñan.

“‘Yung sinasabing secret detention, hindi secret ‘yun. That is a satellite office of the provincial police and intelligence branch. Ginamit lang ‘yun dahil ‘yung Biñan police station, congested na,” he told Rappler in a phone interview.

(It’s not a secret detention center…. It was being used because the Biñan police station is already congested.)

“This is a recognized detention facility,” he added. The facility, which is a converted house inside a Biñan residential area, is run by the provincial intelligence unit. The 10 Biñan police are currently held at the provincial holding and administrative unit in Camp Sandigan in Laguna.

The exposé of torture in Biñan comes as the PNP continues to implement “total transformation.” PNP Chief Alan Purisima has since ordered the re-inventory of “lock-up” jails, which serve as halfway houses before a court issued an order to transfer suspects to jails, which are run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

“There are people who may challenge our system from within, but we will deal with them accordingly,” said Sindac, responding to public sentiment that suspension of the erring cops is not enough –